Occasionally, when the Warriors face a point guard the caliber of the New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul, coach Keith Smart puts guard Monta Ellis on him.
But the Warriors' point guard, Stephen Curry, wasn't having that Tuesday. He made it clear to Smart he didn't want to switch.
The result? Curry responded by leading a third-quarter rally that propelled the Warriors to a 102-89 win over the Hornets at Oracle Arena. One game after outplaying Oklahoma City's All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, Curry went toe-to-toe with Paul, arguably the game's best point guard.
Paul finished with 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting with 10 assists. Curry finished with 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting with eight assists.
"The game is a two-sided coin," said Curry, who had 23 points and 13 assists in Sunday's win over Oklahoma City. "It's not just scoring and offense. You've got to play defense. It's all a growing process. Those are playoff point guards who have been there and tasted it before. Why not learn by guarding them?"
Over his past two games, Curry has 21 assists and three turnovers. And despite picking up two fouls in the first quarter -- part of the reason he played just over 24 minutes Tuesday -- he only has five fouls the past two games.
Golden State (25-29) has won six of its past eight games. With one game left before the All-Star break -- Wednesday at Utah, where the Warriors have a rough time competing -- Tuesday's game against New Orleans was critical.
Early on, it looked as if the Warriors were going to blow the opportunity.
It was a relatively atrocious start for the Warriors. After a 3-pointer by Hornets guard Marco Belinelli, who spent his first two seasons in Oakland, the Warriors trailed 32-15.
By the end of the first quarter, Golden State was down 32-22. They'd missed 11 of 18 shots and turned the ball over four times.
This time, the Warriors made up the difference in a hurry. Down 39-26 some three minutes into the second quarter, the Warriors went on a run.
At one point, they made five straight baskets, three of them 3-pointers. The last was a pull-up from the top of the key by Ellis, which gave the Warriors a 47-46 lead with 3:45 left in the second quarter. The Warriors led 58-53 at the half.
The momentum carried over into the third, thanks to Curry. He had nine points on three shots and had five assists in the third quarter.
After New Orleans had regained the lead, 61-60, the Warriors went on an 11-2 run to again take control of the game. Curry started the run assisting on a David Lee jumper. Curry then knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers before capping the run by zipping a pass to Lee in the lane for a dunk and the foul. Golden State led 71-63 with 6:11 left after Lee completed the three-point play.
The Warriors went into the fourth quarter up 12 and never looked back.
As it turned out, Curry didn't do too bad a job defending Paul. He said he's understanding the defensive concepts more and how to funnel players where he wants them to go. And with the likes of rookie big man Ekpe Udoh becoming a defensive presence behind him, that could be enough most nights -- especially if Curry is rolling on offense as he has been.
Notes: Warriors backup guard Acie Law tried to give it a go, but his sprained right wrist hurt too much after pregame workouts. That's seven consecutive games he's missed. Law is out for Wednesday and will use the All-Star break to get more rest time. In his stead, seldom-used guards Charlie Bell and Jeremy Lin got some action. Bell had three points, three rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes. Lin had four points, three rebounds and three assists in nine minutes. "... Forward Lou Amundson missed his seventh consecutive game with back spasms.
Warriors (25-29) at Utah (31-25),
6 p.m. CSNBA